The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, August 10, 2007

CST and stuff

A note on CST: there are three major “wings” which interact to create its wonderful effect.
1) Joint rotation drills to “clean the slate,” allowing decompression and release of microtrauma and accumulated stress.
2) Gross motor coordination drills which resemble a dynamic yoga to sophisticate the nervous system and teach basic breathing techniques.
3) Weight-bearing exercise which moves along circular pathways. The chosen tool here is Clubbells, but kettlebells and dumbbells are also useful. This allows us to test our breathing at higher levels, as well as protect the body from deviation during performance.

Note that the three wings could be satisfied by, say, yoga and gymnastics. The concepts developed by Scott can help explain both hard and soft-style martial arts and applications, but to keep it from becoming purely academic, it is vital to develop athleticism as well.

The beauty of his system is just how flexible it is, and in the final analysis, how he is encouraging you to develop your own programs, using your own tools, but “training” you to become an instinctive athlete.

Personally, I’m a “constructed kinesthetic”—someone with little innate athleticism, but a lifelong fascination with martial arts and yoga that have taught me to experience the world in other than the digital-visual manner that was most natural for me as a child. Actually, one NLP practitioner (and my Kenpo instructor) told me that I was “super-visual.” Experienced life as a succession of visual images. Probably not healthy, but it was interesting. Actually, that ability limited my martial arts training in an odd way. When I began studying BKF Kenpo (a somewhat different form), I could consciously move faster than others could move unconsciously. However, this was a dead-end. Ultimately, a real martial art is all about the hind-brain. So whenever I got to the point that I started moving unconsciously, it scared the piss out of me, and I backed away. I suspect that I was afraid of letting my anger out. Probably relates to some racial and father-issue stuff.

But you know what? You can spend thirty years on an analyst’s couch dissecting your past and still marry your daughter (Woody Allen, anyone?) so the “whys” don’t really matter.

To me, what matters is the ability to live the life you would have lived if you’d never sustained the damage in the first place. So…for me that would be being a good martial artist, having a writing career creating unique cultural images, and being a good father and husband.

The emotional garbage you see me throw up here is just that—the garbage I discard so that I can get on with the business of life.
A major issue in my life now is the question of “what’s next”? Now, in one sense all that there is to do is chop wood, carry water. Just be. Just enjoy each moment of life. There is another part of me that loves goals, and I feed that beast as well—it has served me quite well over the years.

The relationship goal hasn’t changed. I think I’ve got the husband-daddy thing down pretty well. That means that I know the path to continue on there, not that I can stop and admire myself.

Martial arts? Still unfinished business. But about five weeks ago, I found a small BKF school in Leimert Park, and am seriously considering playing with them. We have things to teach each other, and the younger version of Steve, who still lives within me, would just flat love to have a black belt handed to me by Steve Mohammed, my first instructor. I never had that honor, earning instead a Dan ranking in AIKKA (Parker-style) Karate. A very nice school of motion, but without the same emotional resonance. I’m also thinking of adopting that little school as a pet charity: I have money I need to give away, and there, if I donate 200 bucks, next week I’ll see a new heavy bag…or new gloves…or three new students I’ve provided scholarships for. I could also teach there, and have an impact on the community. I have a need to give back.
For the thousandth time, the rubber meets the road here: IF you meditate and control your breathing, you go to a calm, centered place. If you then remember to breathe during the day, eventually you will check your breathing during a stressful experience, shift it, and find out that the stress diminishes. If you sophisticate the breathing, deepen your ability to breathe calmly under stress, you will be able to handle higher and higher levels of stress without it becoming strain.

If you also create goals in all three arenas of life, admitting that you want love, financial success and bountiful health, and striving to achieve them, you will be exposed to considerable stress. If you continue on, while preventing the stress from becoming strain, the only way the organism can respond is by positive adaptation—you become stronger. You also make deeper contact with your true Self—the invisible space within the triangle created by your goals.

One of the signs of this is the ability to achieve high excellence in all three arenas without specific goals: you are simply “Zen-ing along.” I am honored to know a few people like this. Most of us aren’t in that category.

As CST is designed to make us healthy, instinctive athletes, Lifewriting and Threshold Training ("The Path") are designed to make us instinctive peak performers. You wake up in the morning, life your life, go to sleep at night eager to rest, eager for the new day. And then look back over a year and realize that you have deepened your practice of life itself. An extraordinary feeling.

And what is at the end of that road? A return to the ocean of living energy from which we all spring. Sorry, no egos allowed. Hopes of “individual survival” are dependant upon the illusion that we are individuals. We are so much more than that. Releasing the illusion of duality is one of the hallmarks of spiritual maturity.

That concept is useful because we can work backwards from there, find the pertinent attitudes and teachings in the religious disciplines we were raised in, unite with those of like mind from other traditions. We can go backwards from there to our philosophical concepts of life, our reality maps, and work to make them accurate and useful. And we balance our emotional lives, intellectual lives, physical lives, again searching to resolve the dualities at every turn.

And we ultimately ground it all in the physical reality of our existence, one breath at a time. And there it is: we start with a breath, work our way up to spiritual awakening, and then work back down through the chakras to align every aspect of ourselves with that primal state.

Life is so complex. And so simple. And so beautiful.

As are we all.

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